What Causes You to Open a Piece of Mail or an Email?

This perennial question came up on LinkedIn’s Q&A where members ask questions of their network. The last time I checked, there were 17 answers to this question.

Isn’t it interesting that the person posing the question grouped snail mail and email in the same question? The answers tended to either agree that good direct mail also makes for good email.

Others answered the questions by specifying the channel.

Here are a few edited excerpts of the answers.

- A familiar address, one I personally know. Beyond that, little else. Afraid many folks are growing quite immune to spam mailings these days.

- 99%+ of the time, if I don't recognize the sender then I delete the Email or flag it as spam.

- For Direct Mail---yes, the stuff that gets put in your post box. The challenge is getting people to 'open' it. I believe that post cards are the best bet to grab attention.

- Unfamiliar email simply gets deleted without opening. As for postal mail, the messaging, color, design and timing may sway me. Unfortunately, it's such an overused tactic that getting bombarded electronically and paper based just annoys me.

- You usually just open and look at those who have your interest. My conclusion is that i don't think it's right when someone says they only look at mails that have a familiar address. You look at what your brain sees as a common interest and what you "need" to know.

- Unless it is from someone I know it gets deleted.

- For direct mail you mentioned the word Open. In my opinion an envelope is a barrier and you’re asking the customer to take additional steps to see your message. Unless the address is hand written and a real stamp is applied then it will get trashed 99% of the time with the envelope never getting opened. I think an oversize card is a better option. This way the customer will at least see your message and make a decision on how to act on it. Granted this decision is made in about 2.5 seconds but with an envelope the decision gets made without the consumer ever seeing the offer.

- I have one test. A familiar email address, or the expectation of receiving an email from a previously unknown sender determines whether I open an email or not.

What reaction do you have to these answers? Do you have valid testing to substantiate any of them? Where do you agree or disagree?

Posted on November 26, 2007 and filed under Direct Response Creative, Email, Online Marketing.